The furthest back I've gotten so far isn't very far back at all. From a court transcript in 1877 or 1878:
Q: Place upon the blackboard the signs that you used in applications
A: For what?
Q: Certain stenographic signs?
A: Yes, sir; there was the ordinary tick mark.
Q: Go and make them please; show what meant yes and show what ...
The footnotes on this (and other editions of Josephus) seem to be referring to pages in A Collection of Authentick Records Belonging to the Old and New Testament by William Whiston.
In this case, another online version offers this particular footnote with the reference thus:
(11) The number of Adam’s children, as says the old tradition, was thirty three ...
I believe there's two questions here: what is the earliest use of "aqua vitae" and when did it become synonymous with "distilled spirits". I'm going to answer the latter, when did "aqua vitae" become synonymous with "distilled spirits".
The French "eau de vie", Gaelic "uisce betha", Scandinavian "akvavit", and so on, all have their roots in the Latin "aqua ...
The short answer is that we really don't know with any certainty, and there is - as yet - no scholarly consensus on the subject.
The names given to ancient peoples (in this case from the early fourth century CE) often have little meaning in modern contexts. However, it does seem reasonable to associate the names 'Kasu' with Kushites and 'Nuba' with ...
The oldest reference of the fable is in Babrius's collection, dated to before 200AD. From there it spread eastwards, explaining the Asian versions.
The Iroquois version may be independent; some estimates of its origin are as early as 1142.
Given how common the symbolism is, the story may have had much older, or independent, origins.
The origin story laid out in the wikipedia page seems to be a reinterpretation of an older symbol and its meaning at best, and pure invention at worse.
Critical Notes on Graeco-Roman Ostraca, Herbert C. Youtie (1945) makes a passing mention, in footnote 96, of the use of checkmarks in what seems to be 3rd or 4th century papyri written in Greek:
From the OED (1928)
3. A small dot or dash (often formed by two small strokes at an acute angle), made with a pen or pencil, to draw attention to something or to mark a name, figure, etc. as having been noted or
1844 Frazer's Mag. XXX 88/1
Neat pencil ticks indicated favourite passages.
Archaeologist John Adivasio, from the Florida Atlantic University, with the collaboration of a specialized team, has discovered a variety of artifacts in Huaca Prieta, Peru that may date as far as 15000 B.C., some of them were used for fishing and agriculture. Such artifacts prove the existence of what we may call a culture, although the chronology may be ...